U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, made national news again last week for his radical disavowing of global warming and its increasingly obvious consequences.
On Friday, the Center for Biological Diversity announced it had awarded Oklahoma’s senior senator its annual Rubber Dodo Award, “given annually to those who have done the most to drive endangered species extinct.” The center’s director, Kierán Suckling, said Inhofe was chosen for “being at the vanguard of the retrograde climate-denier movement.”
According to a Suckling:
“Senator Inhofe’s pet theory that climate change is an elaborate hoax would be hilarious, if only he weren’t an elected representative of the American people. If he were, say, a performance artist, it’d be really funny. But sadly he has the power to affect U.S. climate policy. The United States has a chance — and a duty — to take significant steps to slow the climate crisis, and a brief window of time before it’s too late for us to do so. Deniers like Inhofe, in positions of leadership, are dooming future generations of people to a far more difficult world.”
I would only add that Inhofe’s “hoax” theory also helps make Oklahoma look hilarious, too, because the state continues to elect him to office.
The center also noted:
This year is on track to become the warmest on record; some 40,000 temperature records have been broken in the United States in 2012 alone, while Arctic sea ice has melted to a record low. The year has also seen record droughts, crop failures, massive wildfires, floods and other unmistakable signals that manmade global warming is tightening its grip, threatening people and wildlife around the globe.
In typical fashion, Inhofe had this to say about the award:
I am truly honored that yet another radical environmental group has given me an award for my efforts to put a stop to President Obama’s far-left global warming agenda. The Center for Biological Diversity should be pleased to know that my award will have a prominent place in my office, along with all the others I have been proud to receive over the years. As the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, I have worked every day to expose the radical left’s extremist agenda aimed at ending American production of oil, gas, and coal because of the devastating consequences it will have on the American people.
Inhofe has received $511,250 in campaign contributions since 2007 from the oil and gas industry, a fact that often goes unnoted in the corporate media here when it even tries to address his motivations, which isn’t often. Inhofe’s antics receive little coverage or scrutiny here by the state’s media.
According to media reports, Inhofe has been recently campaigning for the controversial Todd Akin, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Missouri. Akin became a controversial figure last summer when he claimed women couldn’t get pregnant during a “legitimate rape” because their bodies wouldn’t allow it. The legitimate rape argument, which has no basis in scientific fact, is used by anti-abortion groups, which want to ban abortion even in cases of rape.
Obviously, Inhofe and Akin share a basic disdain for science, whether it concerns the environment or the human body.
I’ve posted recently on the impact of global warming on Oklahoma’s recent extreme weather, which includes an unusually warm winter, a continued drought, wildfires and excessive high temperatures this summer.
Now it appears we can add the increase of West Nile virus cases to the list.
Both Oklahoma and Texas are reporting large numbers of West Nile cases this summer, part of a nationwide trend. Three people have died of the disease in the Oklahoma and more than 60 cases have been reported. More than a 1,000 cases have been reported nationwide.
The West Nile virus is transmitted through mosquitoes, which thrive in warm weather.
According to CNN, Dr. Lyle Peterson, a doctor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, attributes the record number of cases to the excessive heat this summer.
Petersen said that the reason for the high number of cases this year is unclear, but that unusually warm weather could have fostered favorable conditions for the disease's transfer to humans.
A scientific study published in 2009 has linked West Nile virus to global warming, noting: “If temperature and precipitation are influential in determining West Nile virus infection risk, such changes would likely increase the burden of this disease in coming decades.” The large number of West Nile cases this summer has apparently validated the study’s conclusions.
Gov. Mary Fallin and other state government officials didn’t bring up global warming as they urged Oklahomans to take precautions against the West Nile virus, but what they did say was urgent. According to a Fallin news release:
This disease has hit Oklahomans hard this year and unfortunately, those who seem to be most at risk are older citizens. If you know persons who might be at particular risk, such as parents or grandparents over age 50, please check with them to make certain they are taking precautions. In addition, anyone spending significant time outdoors must also make certain to use insect repellent and carry it with them for reapplication if necessary. Oklahomans are or will soon be gearing up for night-time outdoor activities like high school football games, athletic practices, lakeside camping, gardening and evening jogs. Farmers and those who work outside are particularly susceptible to the disease. Everyone in these circumstances must be sure to take proper precautions.
The day-to-day precautions are extremely important, but the larger story is the continued impact of global warming on our lives in Oklahoma and the fact our government officials and corporate media outlets here decline to either discuss the issue or fail to do so thoroughly and consistently.
Oklahoma’s own U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, as we know, has led a fight for several years questioning the validity of global-warming science. Most climatologists agree that carbon emissions created by fossil fuels are contributing to global warming, but Inhofe sees that basic fact as a “hoax” generated by a liberal conspiracy.
The evidence that global warming isn’t a hoax—from record numbers of West Nile cases to higher food prices caused by extended droughts to massive wildfires—are all around us these days. The immediate emergencies created by these events obscure the larger issue, but it’s not going away.
What also isn’t a hoax is the $511,250 Inhofe has received in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry since 2007, according to OpenSecrets.org.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe—and by extension the fossil fuel industry in Oklahoma—has been remarkably quiet about a new scientific report showing the acceleration of arctic ice melting.
Inhofe is infamous throughout the world for denying the link between global warming, which leads to melting ice, and manmade produced carbon emissions. He once called the threat of global warming the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” and he has obsessively attacked but failed to refute the scientific evidence about climate change. But so far he’s remained mum on the most recent information. Maybe he’s had an epiphany. (Just kidding.)
Some might ask why a senator without a major scientific background and from a relatively small state that has its own specific problems relating to poverty, health and infrastructure would make global warming such an overriding issue. The answer to that is Inhofe has received copious amounts of campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. According to OpenSecrets.org, from 2005 to 2010 Inhofe received $459,750 from oil and gas interests, and he has taken $1.2 million from oil and gas interests since 1989.
As essentially a paid spokesperson for the oil and gas industry, then, it was surprising Inhofe didn’t go on the attack after an executive summary of the ice melting report was released last week. The summary says arctic ice melting is growing much faster than 2005 predictions. The melting will lead to rising sea levels and could eventually be catastrophic.
Inhofe, of course, is a member of the Republican Party, which is consistently campaigning to make severe reductions in Medicare and Social Security to, in essence, save them for the generic, always-cited “grandchildren.” (The GOP strategy is to ruin the programs right now for the grandchildren.) But what’s going to happen to our grandchildren when there’s a massive displacement of populations throughout the world because of rising sea levels.
The bottom line is this: We live in the latter stages of the oil era. Rising gasoline and fuel our prices will force us to turn to renewable energy sources in the future, but it will probably take at least one catastrophic event related to rising sea levels before the world acts aggressively to limit carbon emissions. Historically, Inhofe is on the wrong side of the issue, and his outrageous claims make the state seem like a bad actor on the world stage. He’ll probably weigh in on this new information soon, but he doesn’t speak for everyone here.